The economy and society at large is at a “watershed moment” which is leading us to ‘reset’ and ‘reboot’, world renowned environmental activist Erin Brockovich has told a record IoD Women’s Leadership Conference audience.

The American consumer advocate, made famous by the Oscar-winning biopic she inspired, was speaking at the second of two broadcasts which formed the first ever virtual staging of the annual event, sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills.

Held over two successive Fridays, the conference attracted up to 1,100 delegates on each broadcast.

The audience was made up of businesswomen and men from the UK and Ireland and across the globe with viewers logging in from as far afield as Bermuda, South Africa, Poland and the United States.

Erin Brockovich
Erin Brockovich

Reflecting on the coronavirus pandemic, Erin said:

“We are in a very unique moment, you could call it a watershed moment. We are in a great reset, a great reboot, we were effectively shut down, and that was a moment for us to turn inward to seeing things, self-renewing, re-evaluating what’s important for all of us, and a time to ask ourselves ‘did we get lost along the way?’

“This very moment, I feel more hopeful of our future in this reset, in seeing what we’re missing. We are getting back to the values, the soul of who we are and what we need to protect to be a productive, happy, healthy society going forward.”

IoD NI National Director Kirsty McManus commented:

“After what has been a difficult year for many in our local economy, it was a great pleasure to gather with such a large audience of business leaders, albeit virtually, to celebrate International Women’s Day.

“We were pleased to have attracted such a high calibre of speakers across both days, from Ireland and across the world, each of them with their own unique story to tell. I know these will serve as an inspiration to all of us as we continue our journey of leadership within our own organisations.”

Lisa McLaughlin, Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills, Alternative Legal Services, UK & EMEA


“Once again, it has been a pleasure to support the IoD Women’s Leadership Conference – and especially this year with the theme of ‘Great Leaders Rise Out of Adversity’ particularly resonating with us all in these difficult times.

“To attract an audience of more than 1,000 from across the world is truly remarkable and it was fantastic to see many delegates joining virtually who wouldn’t normally have been able to attend in person.

“We are very grateful to all of our speakers for showing true leadership by sharing their knowledge and experience so honestly and powerfully. They have all taught us the importance of seeing failure and adversity through a different lens; as an opportunity to grow and develop, and at times, challenge convention. As said by Dame Stephanie Shirley, we have all been inspired to empower ourselves and each other to continue to ‘lead for good’, volunteer and share ideas.”

Other speakers at the conference included Great British Bake-Off Winner Nadiya Hussain, tech pioneer Dame Stephanie Shirley and spacecraft operations engineer Nagin Cox.

Associate sponsors of the event included The Open University, Translink, NIE Networks, Investec, SONI, Danske Bank, and KPMG.